The Balearic president, Francina Armengol and minister for tourism, Biel Barcelo, centre, with copies of our sister newspaper Ultima Hora which was printed in Berlin overnight. Our German colleagues at Mallorca Magazin produced a bumper extra.


German and British tour operators represented at Berlin's ITB travel fair have confirmed that Majorca will be registering its best tourist summer season ever this year. Records in terms of numbers of tourists, hotel occupancy, tourist spend and business profits are all expected to be broken.

Last year, Majorca attracted a total of 3,726,499 German tourists. This was in fact a very slight decline compared with 2014 - 0.13% lower, according to information from the Majorca Hoteliers Federation. This year, however, tour operators are pointing to an increase of some 7%, boosting the total number of German visitors to around 4.3 million. Minorca and Ibiza are also expected to experience German tourist growth, though to a lesser extent.

The major tour operators - TUI, Thomas Cook, Alltours, Dertour and FTI - all agree that while the forecasts are excellent, there is a genuine concern about the tourist tax. The concern is less with the amount that will be demanded, which will be two euros per day in the highest band, but with how the revenue will end up being spent. If it is on tourism directly, on the environment and innovation, then these purposes would be acceptable. The worry is, however, that the revenue will go to boosting general financing needs and be applied to projects that have nothing to do with tourism.

The ITB fair, which started yesterday and runs until Sunday, is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. Said to be the world's largest such fair, it has more than 10,000 exhibitors from 187 countries, 1,069 stands and expects to attract more than 175,000 visitors, approximately two-thirds of them from the industry.

A key theme of this year's fair is the so-called Travel 4.0 - diigitalisation of the travel industry. Other themes are sustainable tourism and niched markets, such as travel for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) segment. There is to also be the announcement of a new event: ITB China. The official sponsor of this year's fair is the Maldives: those islands will be highlighting their model of eco-friendly sustainable tourism. The Maldives started to open to tourism in 1972 and the islands have now become an international benchmark for eco-tourism.

On the digital front, the fair's conferences will consider the challenges posed by and opportunities from Big Data, new models of business and the application of technologies to the management of travel and events. In addition, virtual reality, digital transition and the use of robots will all be on display, while there is to be something dubbed "intelligent cycling" and the use of technologies for means of transport. Industry representatives will be able to engage in the ITB Speed Networking Event and the Blogger Speed Dating Event.

An unusual feature at the fair is an exhibition of old books dedicated to tourism. These have been provided by the Centre for Tourism Documentation and cover the period from the nineteenth century to the present day.

The fair's director, Christian Göke, says that the fair is especially important this year in order to give a boost to tourism and to allow travellers to forget the unfortunate episodes of terrorism.

Majorca and the Balearics have strong presence at the fair. The Balearic Tourism Agency is participating, as are various hotel groups, resorts and their hotelier associations, among others.